Tony Ward: Muliaina and Ruane herald new dawn for Connacht
All told it has been a good few weeks for Connacht rugby off the field, with marquee signings such as Mils Muliaina coming their way.
The so called 'project player' Bundee Aki is an issue to which I will return, but hot on the heels of the All Black legend signing on the dotted line, comes news from the IRFU of Willie Ruane being appointed to the position of CEO (in succession to Tom Sears) for the game in the west going forward.
The advantages in having a former player at the helm are massive.
The insight and understanding that a former player with the appropriate business acumen can bring to the top position cannot be overstated.
The job spec and titles may vary from province to province and professional entity to professional entity but certainly the input of Mick Dawson, Garrett Fitzgerald and David Humphreys at Leinster, Munster and Ulster respectively has been absolutely enormous.
The crucial comment in the official IRFU announcement of Ruane assuming the top executive role came from the man himself, and not in any arrogant or flippant way, when stating: "I have a good understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing the province."
Understanding is the key word – understanding also of the problems likely to arise.
Gerry Kelly paved the way, and now the best part of two decades on, the right man made of the right stuff appears to be in the right place.
Connacht didn't manage to secure a spot in the Champions Cup, but the new season can't come quickly enough to the Sportsground.
I wish Ruane nothing but the best in his endeavours.